McDaniel’s transportation problem

The Department of Campus Safety provides free bicycles for students to borrow for transportation around town. (Marya Kuratova / McDaniel Free Press).

As a student from the Big Apple (New York City), transportation has always been available and a part of my daily routine/lifestyle. Coming to the Hill, where transportation isn’t as readily available as compared to New York City, I find transportation to be lacking. One of the transportation challenges is getting to nearby places that are off-campus. For students without cars, I find it can be difficult to get to places that are farther away. Another challenge is the difficulty of reaching a desired location with McDaniel’s shuttle service. There are not any other ways that I know of that have active transportation to get to the nearest train station, bus station, and airport where it is easily accessible. The shuttles provided at McDaniel should be projected in a way that students, like myself, can learn about these available options. Unfortunately, Lyft, Uber, and other taxi companies are not consistently available in the Westminster community. Transporting through any of these forms of transportation on a regular basis can be extremely costly to a college student’s budget.

Personally, I signed up for the shuttle to go back home for this previous fall break, but I ended up having to revolve my train time scheduling and expenses around the McDaniel shuttle’s limited available time bookings. This made the train cost over $300 round-trip to NYC and back to the BWI Airport Rail Station in Maryland. This shows that the shuttle times should be available hourly or at least more often than they already are, so that booking trains doesn’t have to be as expensive when revolving train bookings around the shuttle. Spending over $300 wasn’t the most cost-effective option for a student like myself, nor should my parents have to be paying that amount for me to go to NYC, which is around a 3 ½ hour car ride.

A few solutions that McDaniel can explore for its lack of transportation, would be providing more cost-effective and eco-friendly transportation forms and advertising the available bicycles to the students more effectively, so students can be aware of the service. In NYC, there are public sharing bikes, also known as the “Citi Bike” that are offered all throughout Brooklyn, Manhattan, as well as Queens where anyone can obtain a bike for a certain amount of time while paying a fraction of what someone would pay in a long distance taxi or Uber car ride. Yes, biking for long distances isn’t the easiest way to travel somewhere, especially when carrying a bunch of luggage, however, it will still provide access to get to places that are not too far away and where biking is appropriate. Installing “LimeBikes” or other scooter companies can also provide a way to transport to places (such as Starbucks or Rite-Aid for prescriptions), getting into town quicker, and having access to nearby entertainment and activities.

Not only will someone who doesn’t have a car have difficulty getting places off-campus, but for someone who does have a car, they won’t always be able to bring their car onto McDaniel’s campus. Parking permit fees and McDaniel parking availability can make it challenging for some students, cost wise. For example, it costs $250 per year to park on McDaniel’s campus, which is a lot on top of all of the other expenses a student has to manage. Other colleges in America have parking permit fees that are significantly lower than McDaniel’s parking permit fee.

Also, the shuttle service needs to be actively improved for the sake of students getting off and on campus without an available car. This could be provided by the College more consistently and easily to more places off-campus that are popular, so people can go wherever they choose and with a minimal cost. Investing in more eco-friendly ways of driving, such as electric cars or vans, could also be looked into for potential future installation. They could not only be provided for students who need to get places more often, but are also an environmentally friendly solution that is not adding additional harmful emissions into the Earth’s atmosphere.

I do agree that there are important things that should be changed with McDaniel College, specifically the transportation availability on campus. Since 2019 has brought the largest first-year class in history, tuition payments have increased exponentially. This implies that any extra funds McDaniel has could definitely be spent to change numerous aspects about the school to improve the institution even more, along with the suggested options for better access to transportation.